UPDATE 9:30 AM EDT 5/12/2021: House Republicans ousted Rep. Liz Cheney from her post as the chamber’s No. 3 GOP leader on Wednesday, punishing her after she repeatedly rebuked former President Donald Trump for his claims of election fraud and his alleged role in fomenting the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Meeting behind closed doors for less than 20 minutes, GOP lawmakers used a voice vote to remove Cheney, R-Wyo., from the party’s No. 3 House position, a jarring turnabout to what’s been her fast-rising career within the party.
She was Congress’s highest-ranking Republican woman and is a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and her demotion was the latest evidence that challenging Trump can be career-threatening.
Cheney has refused to stop repudiating Trump and defiantly signaled after the meeting that she intended to use her overthrow to try pointing the party away from the former president.
“I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office,” she told reporters.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: (Headline USA) A combative Rep. Liz Cheney lashed out at leaders of her own Republican Party late Tuesday, taking to the House floor on the eve of her near-certain ouster from a leadership post to warn that former President Donald Trump and his GOP supporters are threatening to “undermine our democracy.”
In an abruptly announced evening appearance in a nearly empty House chamber, Cheney, R-Wyo., cast herself as a defender of the Constitution.
Her four-minute speech also served notice that she had no intention of backing down in her battle against a former president who has retained loyalty among many GOP lawmakers and voters, even as it leaves her once promising political career in question.
“Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar,” she said, adding, “I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”
Cheney has for weeks faced calls for her ouster from her leadership job after her repeated rejection of voluminous evidence of election fraud in battleground states, which cost Trump his reelection bid last November. She’s also insistently blamed him for inciting supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
That stance has angered many Republicans who say that as her party’s No. 3 House leader, she should focus on messages that would help the party win House control in next year’s elections, not on internal party divisions over the former president.
GOP lawmakers plan to meet Wednesday behind closed doors and are expected to strip her of her leadership job and ultimately replace her with Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., a Trump loyalist.
“Millions of Americans have been misled by the former president,” Cheney said. “They have heard only his words, but not the truth as he continues to undermine our democratic process, sowing seeds of doubt about whether democracy really works at all.”
The latest spike in hostilities was prompted last week when Trump released a statement saying, “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!”
On Tuesday, Cheney said: “Today, we face a threat America has never seen before. A former president who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol, in an effort to steal the election, has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence.”
Cheney did not mention her GOP adversaries by name. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise, R-La., have called for her removal and support Stefanik to replace her.
Cheney is a daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney. Her career had defined her firmly as an old-school conservative GOP figure, advocating for tax cuts and an assertive U.S. presence abroad.
She criticized Trump at times during his presidency. But their relationship plummeted after she became one of just 10 House Republicans to vote for impeaching him for alleged incitement of his backers to invade the Capitol as Congress formally certified now-President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.